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The Teams: 1956

The Teams: 1956

June 11, 2021


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Previously: 1879, 1893, 1901, 1918, 1925, 1932, 1940, 1947, 1950, 1964, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1985 p.1& p.2, 1988, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2011 p.1 & p.2

[Writeup and player after THE JUMP]

1. Football in 1956

(starts at 1:00)

F. Scott Fitzgerald was a super weird fan. Eisenhower vs. Stevenson. Platooning is out, T-formation passing and facemasks are in. Rose Bowl has a no-repeat rule. Ohio State is banned from the postseason. The Pac falls apart because every school is selling each other out. Everybody’s playing each other. Racism: South is still segregated, North has an unofficial quota system so every team has one Black guy. At Michigan: Slippery Rock scores, a dog that makes a dashing goal line stand, and the Salk polio vaccine.

2. Fucking Kramer

(starts at 31:34)

1 - LEAD - Ron Kramer - courtesy Peg Canham-Keeley

courtesy Peg Canham-Keeley (left)

Had a sweeter shooting stroke than Caleb Houstan. Created the modern tight end who’s both offensive tackle and downfield receiving threat. “It was like having a license to play 12 guys” –Lombardi. At his funeral they asked the assembled “Who’s ever been kissed on the mouth by Ron Kramer” and everyone raised their hand, including the media, and Don Canham’s wife. Was to Michigan fans of his day as Denard is to modern fans. Never lifted a weight. “Big” scandal before 1956: his GPA is a 2.01 because Michigan just gives solid letter grades, but you need a C+ average, and Look Magazine reports Kramer shouldn’t be eligible.

3. The Team Besides Kramer

(starts at 00:00)


The size of squads are just starting to balloon in this era, and Michigan is up to 60 players from 40 two years prior and 32 two years before that. Team was made of ends, I guess because they all wanted to play for Oosterbaan the way Juwan Howard has all the bigs. Tom Maentz is 6’3/210, Kramer is 6’3/216 and four guys they can play behind them. Jirm Orwing and Al Sigman are vets but they’re hoping Willie Smith “who rocks the scales at 237” pushes Sigman. Agile and speedy guards in Dick Hill and Varv Nyren. Hill already a star. No depth--moved a guy from end.  New center is Mike Rotunno who also switched from End. They get back Gene Snider who started in 1954 but was ineligible in 1955 and is a solid linebacker. Big backfield with Herrnsten (6’2) and Ptacek (6’1) coming up from freshman. Nobody’s much of a passer they worry. Ptacek (“Tah-check”) is a “locomotive” type and their best passer. Pace is the better runner but not a great defender, gained 10 pounds in the offseason.

4. The Games, Part I

(starts at 1:3259)

9/29: #7 Michigan 42, UCLA 13. UCLA finished #4 in the AP last year after losing a close Rose Bowl to MSU, but PCC sanctions came down and all of the 1955 starters were ineligible to play for half a season. Sanders staggered all of their suspensions. Stars were back Donnie Long, Guard Esker Harris, Center Jim Matheny, and back Bruce Ballard. They were a single-wing team as well but passed a lot, going 9/22.  UCLA had four fumbles. Michigan just ran the ball for 234 yards. Went 4/9 passing including a 70-yard TD to Ron Kramer from Terry Barr. Kramer and Maddock each kicked three XPs.

10/6: #5 Michigan 0, #2 MSU 9. Duffy’s 3rd season, coming off their 9-1 1955 “national championship year” when they only lost to Michigan and won a fantastic Rose Bowl that ended on a last-second field goal the kicker thought he missed and the ref had to convince him otherwise. Again game played in Ann Arbor--1953 was last time we went to EL but they had just added 9000 seats and were planning to add the 2nd decks in 1957. Coming off a 21-7 win over #12 Stanford, so this is a game of top 5s. Got over 100k in the stadium (101,001 is the listed and the capacity). State has Clarence Peaks, who went 7th overall in the draft.

Michigan dominates statistically but can’t punch it in, Herrnstein throws an awful INT setting up an MSU field goal. Herrnsten fumbled in the 4th Q and set State up at the 21, and they scored for the 9-0 score. Reel is on youtube.

10/13: #12 Michigan 48, #15 Army 14. Second year in a row playing at Michigan Stadium, shows how far Army’s fallen? Big game that draws a national audience despite both teams falling to Tier #2 by now.

10/20: #8 Michigan 34, Northwestern 20. Ara Parseighian’s first year, they used to yell “Rose Bowl!” if they got a first down.

10/27: #5 Michigan 7, Minnesota 20. WTF! Big upset on homecoming. Michigan scores quickly then Injuries: Lost Terry Barr (ankle) Kramer starts playing cornerback on defense for him. Pace, Orwig, and Hill went out. Time ran out at the end of the 1st half with Michigan on Minnesota’s 4 yard line.

Minnesota’s “blitz offense” took over in the 4th Q after Michigan had a 7-0 lead at halftime and 7-6 lead at the end of the 3rd Q. Ran a hurry-up offense from the Wing-T and Michigan’s “defensive timing was thrown off” by it. Two last-chance drives ended on downs to set up another Minnesota score, and the last drive ended on an INT in the endzone. Box score shows the yards and stats were close.

#1 Michigan State was upset by 1-3 Illinois the same day, which meant Iowa and Ohio State were the only undefeated/untied B10 teams (Minnesota had a tie with NW)

11/3: #17 Michigan 17, at #7 Iowa 14. Check out the route to get there:

Remember this the next time you’re crying bored on I-94. Forest Evashevski’s Iowa--only game they lost all year, second year in a row M was the only loss of the Rose Bowl winner, and 4th close game in a row he lost to his alma mater.

No wonder the guy went nuts. Mike Shatusky, 3rd string RHB scored two second-half TDs to bring M back from down 14-3. Last one was at 1:06 in the game.

Best UM played all year, coming up in big moments.

5. The Games, Part II

(starts at 2:14:37)

11/10: #10 Michgian, Illinois 7. Wing-T team with a great backfield and one great guard. Revenge for the loss in 1955. This was a weird year for Illinois--two ties and lots of very close games, beat #1 MSU and Cal in a 2-5-2 season.

Star cornerback/halfback Abe Woodson (who became one of the best kick returners of the 1960s in the NFL) had three second-half TDs and also set hurdles records. RB Dale Smith was good too, and UM was focused on stopping Bobby Mitchell and Larry Jefferson who’d torched them in ‘55. Smith scored on a left pitchout on their first drive--just a great individual play--but Michigan tightened up and ran all over them (328 yards, 120 from Pace). Took control on a Statue of Liberty play on 4th and 4 at the Illinois 12.

Crowd cheered when Iowa beat Minnesota, which kept Michigan in the Big Ten title race (needing help from OSU to beat Iowa). Also we hate Minnesota. Would have been extremely unfair for M to go to the Rose Bowl--it was based on wins and Michigan had a 7th Big Ten game.

11/17: #10 Michigan 49, Indiana 26. Offense took over, but only 58,515 showed up (still a record for attendance, 566,093, breaking the 1949 record by 3k.)

Kramer made one of his “miracle catches” and was all over the place, including a Woodsonesque interception and two more bat-downs in keeping IU’s QB Steve Filipowski to one reception. Nobody mentioned the Heisman.

Bittersweet win because Ohio State lost to Iowa, which gave Iowa the Big Ten championship. Michigan, with a win over Iowa and an extra Big Ten game, would have been able to go with a victory over Ohio State next week.

11/24: Michigan 19, at #12 Ohio State 0

Rivalry becoming #1 for Michigan? Blanking OSU isn’t even above the fold in the Daily!!!! But 10k rooters went. Clearly the #1 for OSU:

“For the almost fanatical Ohio crowd, the defeat meant “a poor season.” In Ohio, the Michigan-Ohio game often means the success or failure of a whole year. Also the Buckeyes “only” won six games this year.

Woody Hayes in Year 6. OSU was playing for a 3rd straight Big Ten conf title.

SCANDAL: OSU gets a slap on the wrist: Big Ten investigated Woody’s loans to players, Woody refused to provide any accounting of his loans. Investigation also found “serious irregularity” in their off-campus work program. Probation for one year and ineligible for the Rose Bowl, which they weren’t eligible for anyway. Tragically talented: Woody has a great line and backfield (11 guys drafted). One of those players is Jim Parker, the best G in the country. Outland winner. Went 8th overall and tackle Bill Michael went 16th overall.

Woody is so confident he won the toss and chose the wind (that’s not deferring--M got both kickoffs).

Fumble luck favors Michigan: OSU lost all 4 of theirs, Michigan recovered all three of theirs. But Michigan’s defense knew Woody was going to keep it to the ground and tightened up against the run, playing Kramer like a Viper. Kramer is outstanding in his final game. Literally flying through the air on some of his tackles.

Delicious Woody tears:

On Ohio State fans.

Wrap: Heisman vote this year was LUDICROUS. Everyone but Tennessee fans and the worst Domers agrees who should have won.



  • "Green Door”—Jim Lowe
  • "Why Do Fools Fall in Love”—Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
  • “I’m in Love Again”—Fats Domino
  • “Long Tall Sally”—Little Richard
  • “Across 110th Street”
WTKA Roundtable 6/10/2021: A Sign of Appreciation

WTKA Roundtable 6/10/2021: A Sign of Appreciation

June 10, 2021

Things discussed:

  • New allegations from Matt Schembechler that significantly reframe the story reported in the WilmerHale Report.
  • Doesn’t change what’s in the report, and doesn’t change the fact that as Michigan fans we want to see Michigan continue to deal with sexual assault cases that continued at the university long after Anderson. Things in the provost’s personnel report didn’t trigger anything for years.
  • Seth: disappointed with Harbaugh’s response.
  • NIL: NCAA has been kiting, nobody will be ready by July, and that’s the point: the states who recently passed laws to go into effect immediately are just doing a recruiting. Gonna be the Wild West for a time.
  • Expanding the playoffs: it’s going to happen, just got to hash out the number. 12 sounds reasonable. Please put them on campuses.
  • Juwan Howard’s name in NBA jobs: he’s going to coach his sons, but we get that the NBA is the pinnacle. Interesting that Howard said “that’s in the past” when someone mentioned it to him. It won’t be about the money if/when it happens; it’ll be about “How good am I?”
  • Point guard recruiting: we like Seth, would take a Bradley.
The Michigan Othersportscast 3.27: End of the Road

The Michigan Othersportscast 3.27: End of the Road

June 7, 2021

With David Nasternak and Alex Drain

Segment 1: Baseball's Last Weekend and Look Ahead

  • Hajjer was good, got unlucky and no support.
  • Weston...not so much. Also no support.
  • Who's back, who's not...who else matters?
  • Decently strong core returning

Segment 2: French Open Update and NHL Fireworks

  • Men's Draw...well chosen!
  • Women's Draw...uhhhhh not as much
  • Isles/Bruins is great tv; Canadian Series is not really
  • Tampa is just too complete; Avs/Knights have lived up to the hype
  • Caveat for the summer!


  • NHL on ESPN Theme
  • "Closing Time"—Semisonic
  • Ice Hockey (NES) theme
WTKA Roundtable 6/3/2021: The Magic of Detroit Day

WTKA Roundtable 6/3/2021: The Magic of Detroit Day

June 3, 2021

Things discussed:

  • Detroit Day: rename the BBQ at the Big House—they’re letting Detroit know they’re a priority post-Brown.
  • Craig: Local players have a stronger connection to the program.
  • Gattis extension: Can’t recruit on a short contract. What if Michigan needs out?
  • Hunter Dickinson draft: Like Livers last year, he’s probably just getting an evaluation, but it does start the clock that he’s probably leaving after 2021-‘22.
  • Break Talk: Red Wings are cursed, NHL never has a problem getting other franchises the first overall pick.
  • Owen Power first overall? Seth: how many years did the Wings get to the trade deadline needing a solid defenseman, and Power is that as a floor.
  • Which NHL teams will leave our players in college? Which guys are we keeping?
  • Michigan baseball: bit by the good pitching, last year’s run was good pitching too. They’re in a really tough regional: host Notre Dame might be the worst team.
  • Naomi Osaka and the role of press conferences.
The Michigan Othersportscast 3.26: Speed, Mayhem, and Violence

The Michigan Othersportscast 3.26: Speed, Mayhem, and Violence

June 3, 2021

With David Nasternak and Alex Drain

Segment 1: Baseball's Final Weekend and Tournament Scouting

  • Alex and David debate hitting and assaults in hockey
  • Michigan gets Pitcher'd
  • Michigan Pitchers Nebraska
  • Michigan rally is too late
  • Notre Dame, UConn, CMU Previews

Segment 2: Softball Reconstruction and NHL Playoff Updates

  • Michigan loses their 4th infields
  • What's in the Circle?
  • Who's Coming In?
  • What's up with the 5*s?
  • What does it all mean?
  • Playoff Round 1 Recaps
  • Who Escapes Canada?
  • Avs/Vegas


  • NHL on ESPN Theme
  • "Rocky Mountain High"—John Denver
  • Ice Hockey (NES) theme
WTKA Roundtable 5/27/2021: They Like Things Quiet

WTKA Roundtable 5/27/2021: They Like Things Quiet

May 27, 2021

Thing discussed: The university’s report and recommendation that Fielding Yost’s name be removed from Yost Ice Arena, and the history of racism at the University of Michigan.

  • Panel: Mostly fine with renaming the building, think it’s a small gesture and the story is much larger, involving most of those in power at the University of Michigan and other institutions around the country before, during, and after Yost’s life.
  • Seth: Racism is quiet. It’s not about smoking guns and bad actors—it’s a culture that puts the feelings of racists over equality and a system of keep things “pleasant.”
  • The “Moral Map” standard versus the reality that of Michigan’s 103 building names, all but one—the William Trotter Multicultural Center—are named for white people. Trotter’s lesson: You have to agitate.
  • Craig: We should be
  • Seth: 13.5% of my graduating class in 2002 was African-American; the last class was 4.4%.
  • Report issues: Didn’t talk to the experts like John Behee whose information was used. Craig: It read less like a history and more like a legal brief, and he was really bothered that it made Gerald Ford out to be a hero. Willis Ward does not support that story.
  • Seth: Michigan was different from other schools because they had protesters against sitting their Black player. Yost hired Pinkertons, who found three leaders of the protesters whom President Ruthven dismissed.
  • Brian: Doesn’t that disqualify him from having a building named for him? Seth: Sure, but it’s a small part of a much greater system that’s still in force today.
  • Sam: Highlight the student response. Highlight history. Discusses historical events of attacks on Black communities, and their resonance in events today.
  • Seth: Example of Belford Lawson Jr. (read the article here). Same movements we have today. Same reactions we have today.
  • Sam/Seth: History of Ocoee Massacre on Election Day 1920 in response to Black registration to vote, and how these stories are not told, kept quiet, specifically because they resonate with the same issues today.
  • Michigan must teach this part of their history—name of a building is such a small part.You have an opportunity here to apply some function by teaching people, and open up the conversation again to real changes. Do more than being symbolic.
  • Seth: Story doesn’t end with Yost. Crisler’s Quota system is visible in the team photos.
The Michigan Othersportscast 3.25: Bit by the Viper

The Michigan Othersportscast 3.25: Bit by the Viper

May 25, 2021
With David Nasternack and Alex Drain, wsg Craig Ross

Segment 1: Baseball and Softball

  • Baseball has an epic comeback...and then not so much
  • Maryland gets Shell-Shocked
  • Senior Day Letdown
  • Beaubien's No-Hitter
  • Storako's Time to Shine
  • No hitting at all
  • We Should Have Just Gone to Bed

Segment 2: Alex and Craig Draft the French Open

  • General French Open Musings
  • The Men's Draft
  • The Women's Draft
  • Final Thoughts


  • NHL on ESPN Theme
  • "Anyone for Tennis"—Cream
  • Ice Hockey (NES) theme
WTKA Roundtable 5/20/2021: You Already Have All the Curses

WTKA Roundtable 5/20/2021: You Already Have All the Curses

May 20, 2021

Things discussed:

  • Seth & Craig come on early (Sam is out sick) to talk about sports analytics
  • Softball seeding: Michigan got hosed, the Big Ten got hosed, Washington and the Pac 12 got hosed even worse. Seeding was absurdly SEC-biased.
  • Committee based it on the Big Ten not playing out-of-conference games, punishing the conference for protecting their players during a pandemic.
  • Will this be what finally pushes the northern schools to leave the NCAA and create their own summer league?
  • Would they adapt Bakich’s proposal to make more money? Brian: plausible. Seth: no, because they’re a cartel, and the small schools are driving it.
  • How scholarships work in softball/baseball now.
  • Matt Campbell turned down the Lions, would you?
  • Oregon State DT transfer, and Michigan’s Ravens-like front: will it work?
  • Hockey: Brian crosses fingers that Michigan Hockey Summer leaves us at least three of the four guys about to get drafted.
  • Hoops: Are they a 1 seed? Their floor is really high, a bit on Bufkin.
  • Track is good.
  • Let’s change the field hockey rules.
The Michigan Othersportscast 3.24: All or Nothing

The Michigan Othersportscast 3.24: All or Nothing

May 19, 2021

New sponsor: We’ve taken the fetters off David Nasternak and Alex Drain so they can talk about all of the other Michigan sports, with some pro playoffs sprinkled in during offseason. Also because we have …A SPONSOOOOORRRRR: It’s local realtor and our good friend Sheri Weintraub (wife of Ira). If you’re house-hunting or looking to sell in Ann Arbor, Belleville, Canton, Chealsea, Dexter, Manchester, Northville, Plymouth, or Saline, go with Sheri. Visit and let’s get started!

Segment 1: Baseball and Softball

  • The Continued Fame of Alex Drain
  • Baseball hits enough to win 3, but pitches well enough to only win 2
  • Softball crushes Rutgers
  • Softball gets the WORST draw in the NCAA Tournament
  • Alex breaks down Washington

Segment 2: NHL Playoff Series Preview

  • East: Isles/Pens; Caps/Bruins
  • Central: Preds/Canes; Bolts/Panthers
  • North: Habs/Leaves; Jets/Oilers
  • West: WIld/Knights; Blues/Avs


  • NHL on ESPN Theme
  • "All the Small Things"—Blink 182
  • Ice Hockey (NES) theme
The Michigan (Field)Hockeycast 3.23: Muddy Sundy

The Michigan (Field)Hockeycast 3.23: Muddy Sundy

May 12, 2021

With David Nasternak and Alex Drain. I think we’re going to rename this “The Michigan Othersportscast” and get a sponsor.

Segment 1: Field Hockey, Softball, and Baseball

  • Field Hockey Comes Oh So Close
  • Is it Sustainable?
  • Baseball Pitches...until Sunday
  • Softball also Pitches...until Sunday

Segment 2: Michigan Hockey Professional Alumni

  • We walk through the 15-20 NHL players
  • Werenski, Larkin, GLENDENING, Trouba
  • Hyman, Hughes, Max Patch
  • Carl and the Winnipeg Boyz


  • NHL on ESPN Theme
  • "Crazy Town”—Butterfly
  • Ice Hockey (NES) theme
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